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What Did My Doctor Say?

The special words doctors and nurses use can be hard to understand. You may see or hear these words at your doctor’s office, on the Internet, on the radio or TV, or in newspapers or magazines. We call these words “medspeak.” The Medical Library Association created this site to help you understand what a doctor or nurse tells you. You’ll find tips on how to understand many health words. The terms on this site were created with the help of the Working Group for Health Literacy, Massachusetts Health Sciences Library Network (MAHSLIN)
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  • CACHEXIA

    This means high weight loss due to illness. This can happen to AIDS patients.
  • CALCIFICATIONS

    Also called microcalcifications, these are small amounts of calcium that build up in the breast and can only be seen on a mammogram. They may be an early sign of breast cancer.
  • CANCER

    Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells that are not normal in the body.
  • CARCIN

    This is part of a word. It means cancer. CARCIN is in the word “carcinogen”. It means “things that cause cancer.”
  • CARCIN-

    This is part of a word meaning cancer. The word “carcinogen” means "things that cause cancer."
  • CARCINOMA

    This is another name for cancer.
  • CARCINOMA IN SITU

    This is cancer in one place in the body that has not spread into other tissues.
  • CARDIO

    This is part of a word. It means heart. CARDIO is in “cardiovascular system”.These are all the body parts that help blood move around.

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